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Ottertooth Forums * Temagami canoe routes & backcountry travel * Archive through July 10, 2016 * Portages on the lower Sturgeon < Previous Next >

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Post Number: 391
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Friday, August 28, 2015 - 9:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Just got back from loop trip Temagami-Temagami River-Lower Sturgeon-Wawiashkashi-Gull-Temagami.
We had previously done most of this on separate trips in 95 and 98, and there have been changes.
Several of the portages (Island Falls, Lavergne Rapids) on the TR have been seriously impacted by ATVs- is this authorized access, since this is a Provincial Park? If so it seems rather odd to be charging canoeists a fee when the ATV's have a much greater impact.
On the Sturgeon, it was clear from the condition of the portages that very few people do this section upstream any more...
There are 5 portages between River Valley and the Manitou River:
Portage #1 (400) is along the 805 and the ex-CNR railbed but necessitates steep uphill and then downhill climbs up the 30-foot clay banks. In 1998 there were well-used diagonal paths up and down, keeping the grades to a minimum. Now both paths are straight up and down about an 80% grade. I had to carry the canoe literally on my hands and knees, dragging myself up by the bushes as there was no footing at all.
Portage #2 (Glen Afton, 700) needed some serious clearing at the downstream end to access the road at the top of the bank, but was otherwise fine. I chatted with Cowboy Labelle's relatives who confirmed that he died a few years ago at the age of 93. Tragically, the chipstand is history...
Portage #3 (800) starts well enough at the campsite but the "road" (really now an ATV track) quickly becomes grown over with alders. A chainsaw-toting ATVer happened along but quickly turned back, discouraged. This 700M section along the road needs a day's work with a chainsaw and it should be done just wide enough for a portage!!
Couldn't find the end of the portage so had to bushwhack out to the river, find the top of the rapids, and bush out a track back to the road- this took 2 hours but the portage is now usable and locatable in both directions, from the road and from the river.
Portage #4 ("the elbow", 400) is primarily an upstream portage as you would run the rapids downstream except possibly in extreme low-water conditions. As it follows the same "road" as the previous portage we didn't even attempt to find it and saw no sign of it- we did the long, difficult track upstream. Earlier in the season and with higher water the track would be impossible, so this portage MUST be restored or the route will no longer be possible upsteam in high water!!
Portage #5 (Floodwood Chutes, 250) starts out well as I assume the bottom half is used by the cabin owners to get access to the falls. The last quarter was totally grown in and it looked as though someone had been trying to get down over the way-too-steep and very slippery-when-wet sloping bedrock- a truly life-threatening put-in/take-out given its proximity to the falls; if you slipped there with the canoe you'd be going over.
Anyway after a lot of scouting around and examining trees I was able to find the original track. It was so disused that I had to cut down some 6" diameter trees, but I was happy to be able to restore this very important portage to its original path, the put-in at the top being confirmed by a pile if rusted ancient bean-cans. The put-in is (and always has been) tricky, down yet another steep clay bank- now complicated by a 16-inch spruce log lying parallel to the bank- I cut away the branches so you can get the canoe in (or out) and load/unload it under the log.
Anyway I think it's very important to keep these portages open to enable upstream as well as downstream travel on the Sturgeon in this very important area, without which you can't do the loop trip on the Temagami!
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Post Number: 1717
Registered: 02-2004

Posted on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 8:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Definitely territory less travelled. Thanks for giving us this.
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Post Number: 69
Registered: 04-2005

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 - 11:51 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hey grncnu,

So glad to hear you did this trip. I did this with a buddy quite a few years ago. See my post on the forum here: tml

We left from Thistle lake and went down the Temagami to River Valley then up the Sturgeon, through all the same lakes and then back the upper Temagami to Island and to our cottage there. Big trip and we had a massive heavy canoe, so the portages when we could find them were tough. We did end up walking in the rapids with our canoe for quite a few of them. I have a detailed report, available to send by email with pics if you ever want it.

My buddy and I were thinking of doing it again. We do remember it being quite the physical trip though. 6 days if I remember. My email is if you want it.

thank you for the memories
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Post Number: 396
Registered: 08-2010
Posted on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - 10:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Hey Bigwolf.
I read your post from 2005. It was interesting, cause that was about 7 years after we first did the Temagami River and the Lower Sturgeon (but only up to Murray Creek that time).
1n 1998 there were no ATVs and both rivers were pristine.
Also all the portages were intact and in good shape although I remember we did do some "maintenance" here and there- but no more than anywhere else in Temagami.
So it was a big shock to see the differences now.
Having said that, it sounds like the trash situation was actually worse when you went thru back in 05- so your talking to the Lodges must have had an effect!
The only place that was trashed was the campsite at Murray Creek. Here's the campfire:

Who puts six disposable diapers in a firepit!?
The other thing that bugged us was the portages that have been totally messed up by ATVs, that used to be beautiful little trails... there's one below Lavergne where they've "burned rubber" all over the rocks by the river.
Anyhow, I can promise you that you'll be able to find and follow all the portages (at least next year!) We had high water, so we ran most of the Temagami, but that really long track up the "Elbow" on the Sturgeon was very hard because of the volume of water.
A tip: you can camp for free on the "island" at the River Valley trailer park. They have Bluegrass Festivals every summer on the holiday weekends, so maybe not then.
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Post Number: 72
Registered: 04-2005

Posted on Friday, February 26, 2016 - 12:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Thank you grncnu

I would love to do this trip again with my cousin. Yes garbage is still a problem. When I went to Thistle Lake at our cottage this summer. I met a youn g couple at the landing who were going canoeing on the big island and when I asked if they knew they lake he bragged that he had been coming for years. When I told him I had been there for 48 years he backed off a bit. Anyway a few days after they left I checked out the spot, which has a nice toiled pit in the back. Well, when I landed I could not believe it there were diapers all over the property and toilet paper and feces everywhere. It was probably the most disgusting sight I have ever seen. I cleaned up and went over to see Gord to see if he knew of these people and if we could send a message. Unfortunately he did not. What is wrong with people like that? If only we could educate, penalize them. So frustrating arrive at a site like that after a hards day paddle and have to deal with that. Awful

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